Awards and Honors

Best Film, Black International Cinema Festival Berlin

National Endowment for the Humanities and New York Public Library Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Scholars-In-Residence Fellowship

ADCO Foundation Grant

Ford Foundation Just Films Travel Fellowship
Ford Foundation Diversity Dissertation Fellowship


Recent Work

A Love for Liberation: African Independence and Black Power (2018)

9 GRAMS: the Play (2017)

Black and Cuba (documentary, 2015)

“Black and Cuba: Visualizing the Radical Caribbean”

in Migrating the Black Body  (with Julia Roth, 2017)

“‘We Must Discuss, We Must Invent’: Race, Filmmaking and Pedagogy ” in Black Camera (2015)

“The International Dimensions of Everyday Black Political Participation”

in Journal of African American Studies (with Christina Greer, 2013)


Dr. Robin J. Hayes is an award-winning filmmaker, scholar, interactive designer, and consultant. She is founder and Creative Director of Progressive Pupil, which “makes Black studies for everybody” by producing transformative learning experiences through a variety of media. Dr. Hayes also directed Black and Cuba, the first documentary to explore the relationship between African Americans and Cuba. The Ford Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities funded her work. Currently, she is directing the documentary 9 GRAMS about a play directed by Emmy-winner S. Epatha Merkerson.

A first generation college student, Dr. Hayes is an alumnus of St. George’s School where she graduated at age 16 with help from the A Better Chance program. After studying at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she became the first person at Yale to earn a combined doctorate in African American Studies and Political Science. In between college and grad school, Dr. Hayes supervised a legal clinic for homeless families at the Urban Justice Center. She also travelled extensively throughout Central America and the Caribbean with the humanitarian organization (IFCO)/Pastors for Peace, which supports a “people’s foreign policy” in the region. Dr. Hayes has held faculty positions at Yale, Williams, and Northwestern.  Her work is primarily based in her two hometowns: Brooklyn and Los Angeles.


Dr. Hayes’ essays and commentary have appeared in the following outlets:

The AdvocateAllHipHop 

Amsterdam News • The Atlantic 

Booklist • Brooklyn Reader 

Colorlines  • Ebony 

Flavorwire Fox 5 News New York

Huffington Post • Hyperallergic  


NBCNews • Pix 11 News New York 

Shadow and Act Video Librarian

Village Voice • WBAI 


Documentary and narrative works that illuminate the complexity of the Black experience. Our latest award-winning film Black and Cuba is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play in the US and throughout the Americas.


Enthralling live experiences that amplify the voices of the most vulnerable community members. Our most recent play, 9 GRAMS, follows a Hollywood screenwriter as she endures solitary confinement in a Turkish prison because of who she is and how she loves.


Dramas and docu-series about that elevate discussions about  the hot topic issues of our times. In partnership with renowned Caribbean author Tiphanie Yanique, Progressive Pupil is currently developing the one-hour single camera series Fortune Bay based on her prize-winning novelLand of Love and Drowning.


Digital experiences that democratize knowledge, empower civic engagement, and build community. Since 2012 our blog, The Progressexpands knowledge about the history, culture and politics of Black communities with a different them each month. The podcast series, Breaking Down Racismprovides helpful, affirming information about everyday experiences with race.

Diversity Trainings

Fun relevant workshops designed for nonprofits, campuses, and corporations that are committed to inclusive excellence. Our most popular curricula, “Coping With MicroAggressions” and “Teamwork Makes King’s ‘Dream’ Work,” were developed by founder Dr. Robin J. Hayes and based on her decades of experience as an award-winning scholar and nonprofit leader. Best suited for faculty and student orientations, professional development, and/or difficult dialogues about current events. See a full description of our workshops.

Activism Place

For festivals, street fairs, and conferences, Activism Place is an interactive exhibition that highlights local social change organizations and opportunities for civic engagement, including registering to vote. An uplifting experience for audiences and participating organizations alike, this exhibition offers special events a unique opportunity to give back and build brand integrity. Previous participants include the NAACP, Voto Latino, and PETA.